Whitfield Diffie

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Whitfield Diffie

Whitfield "Whit" Diffie (born June 5, 1944 in Washington, DC ) is an American expert on cryptography . Together with Martin Hellman, he is one of the pioneers of public key cryptography ( encryption with publicly accessible keys and asymmetric encryption systems ).

life and work

He finished his mathematics studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1965 (bachelor's degree) and worked there in the field of the Artificial Intelligence Lab, from the 1960s a leading research center for artificial intelligence , at which not only scientists but also many hackers were active. From 1969 he was at Stanford University , where his collaboration with Hellman on cryptography began. Like Hellman's, his interest in it came from reading the 1967 classic The Codebreakers by David Kahn . After his time at Stanford he worked on security software at Northern Telecom , where he was the manager for Secure Systems Research and developed the key distribution architecture for X.25 networks in their PDSO system. From 1991, Diffie worked at Sun Microsystems in Menlo Park , California as a Distinguished Engineer and as Chief Security Officer at the vice-presidential level. He is a Sun Fellow . He was a visiting professor at the Royal Holloway College of the University of London , was a Fellow of the Isaac Newton Institute in Cambridge and the Marconi Foundation.

In 1976, Diffie and Hellman , who were at Stanford University at the time, published their paper New Directions in Cryptography . In it they described the Diffie-Hellman key exchange, now named after them ; a novel method for solving the problem of securely providing secret keys for encrypting messages. They used a so - called one - way function for this .

He also deals with social issues of cryptography, about which he wrote a book with Susan Landau , and was an expert on several Senate and Congressional hearings in the United States.

In 1992 he received an honorary doctorate from the ETH Zurich and in 2008 from the Royal Holloway College. He is a Fellow of the International Association for Cryptologic Research (IACR). In 1996 he received the Paris Kanellakis Prize . Diffie and Hellman received the 2015 Turing Award . In 2017 he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society .



  • Steven Levy : Crypto. How the Code Rebels beat the Government, Saving Privacy in the Digital Age. Viking Press, New York NY 2001, ISBN 0-670-85950-8 .

Web links

Commons : Whitfield Diffie  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Whitfield Diffie, Martin E. Hellman: New Directions in Cryptography . In: IEEE Transactions on Information Theory . tape 22 , no. 6 , 1976, p. 644–654 ( Other version (pdf; 267 kB) ).
  2. heise online: Pioneers of cryptography: Turing Award for Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman. In: heise online. Retrieved March 3, 2016 .